Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Robert Hazard & The Heroes - S/T EP (2 Versions) (1982)

While gathering together music for a Philadelphia Music radio special, I went on the blogs looking for some Robert Hazard. After digging around in a haystack I finally found one rip of his first EP. But it was so horribly distorted I decided to suck it up, dig out my old vinyls and rip them myself.

But let me backtrack a bit first. Growing up in Philly, this stuff was inescapable. Looking online now I found that this EP sold either 100,000 or 300,000 copies in Philly alone. Whichever number is correct, I'll believe it. Let's just say it was a shit-ton of records. And deservedly so. This is pure new wave brilliance, every song an anthem. The first two tracks, Escalator Of Life and Change Reaction were the massive hits, but all five songs saw much airplay. And the closing Dylan cover is simply explosive.
The story on the 2 versions is that after Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder wandered in to a bar where they were playing (he was in town to review the Stones' 1981 show at JFK Stadium) and got blown away by their always great set, he wrote about them in the mag. Kind of unheard-of back then for an unsigned local band. Major label boobs at RCA read it and, having had their work done for them, signed the band.
And instead of just re-releasing the perfect original, being major-label idiots, they remixed 3 of the 5 songs. Vastly inferior mixes, of course. But maybe this is just because we were so used to the originals. Though I distinctly remember thinking "What the fuck have they done?" upon first hearing the new versions.
They also dropped the "& The Heroes" part; I guess thinking it was easier to market a solo act in the era of Paul Young and Thomas Dolby, etc. ad. nauseum.

Whatever. I have included both versions in a 320 rip for your evaluation. Keep the one you like best, don't trust my clouded judgment. The RCA version sounds cleaner having of course spent much less time on the turntable. But they're both OK.
The reason there's no cover image up there is that both versions came wrapped in a poster of the man. I couldn't find any decent pics online of it, but the files themselves have art of the underlying cover - the RCA version has lyrics and the indie version just the name and song list.

Robert Hazard passed away at 59 about a year ago. He had recently been signed to Rykodisc and released a very decent Americana/Folk record, "Troubador", that I found while scouring the blogs. I'm sure you can find it too. Don't know much about the intervening years; something about an antiques store in upstate New York. But I'm sure he was well taken care of over the years having written a little song you might have heard called Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

Get both versions HERE.

Tracks:
01. Escalator Of Life
02. Change Reaction
03. (I Just Want To) Hang Around With You
04. Out Of the Blue
05. Blowin' In the Wind

Funny thing about that '81 Stones concert mentioned above: I went to that, pretty much solely because I thought it might be my last chance - them being so fucking old and all. It was ok. You Can't Always Get What You Want was fantastic and is today my only clear memory of the show. That and their garish, ridiculous stage set.
Also, because the scalpers over-bought or sometrhing I got in for a mere $3 from a guy with a fistful of tickets. So it was worth it, haha.